For this blog post, we’re discussing our favorite female characters in books and TV shows. Thank you to everyone who responded!
What were your favorite female characters (it can be from anywhere – television, books, comics, etc.) and why did you like them? Did they influence you in any significant ways as you grew up?
Name: Danielle Abraham, 3rd Year
Off the top of my head, some of my favorite female characters all come from TV shows–Bubbles from The Power Puff Girls, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Rory from Gilmore Girls, and Lizzie McGuire. Bubbles was sweet, and even though she fought bad guys, she was afraid of the dark. I definitely related to Bubbles the most out of all the Power Puff Girls because she reminded me of myself–soft and scared, but still just as capable as anyone else. Another character I really looked up to was Lizzie McGuire. She was so down to earth and a little awkward. I feel like the life lessons and experiences she went through helped guide me, especially when it came to dealing with friendships and growing up. I will always remember that one episode where Lizzie wants to buy a bra. She felt so awkward and embarrassed about it, and in the end she yells out in front of everyone that she just wants to buy a bra! I feel like that scene really captures the difficulties of growing up; it’s awkward and uncomfortable and puberty feels so weird, but everyone goes through it and it’s normal! Lizzie was also really selfless and people meant a lot to her. I think that’s one of the qualities I liked about her the most: she was a great friend.
Name: Rachel Birnam, 3rd Year
While there are many real women in my life that constantly inspire and empower me, as a girl who loves to get lost in fictional worlds, there have also been many female characters that have influenced my life as well. From Sailor Moon to Meredith Grey, I will never forget all the valuable lessons I’ve learned from fictional ladies.
When I was a little girl, I would always spend Saturday mornings watching cartoons with my brother. While he loved Spiderman, Batman, and the many other male leads he had the option to look up to, I always loved Sailor Moon. The Sailor Moon girls were fun, smart, and totally bad-ass. From a young age they helped me to realize that being girly and being powerful are not mutually exclusive; a message that Elle Woods would later solidify for me.
All throughout my pre-teen years, I was obsessed with Lizzie McGuire. Through her awkward encounters, embarrassing stories, and the countless crushes and heartbreaks; I felt like I could relate to her. I remember the Lizzie McGuire themed birthday parties, going to see the movie with my friends, and constantly wishing that I could raid her closet. Lizzie McGuire was real, she was relatable, and she made those dramatic pre-teen years just a little bit more bearable.
During high school, as I began to look to books for an escape from AP tests, boys, and all the other stresses that high school brings, I read every book by Sarah Dessen. The way she beautifully depicted the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl had me staying up until the early hours of the morning to read her books. One of her leading ladies, Remy, from This Lullaby, stuck with me the most. Her strong, but guarded demeanor and her endless sarcasm reminded me of myself; sometimes I felt like Sarah Dessen took the words right out of my mouth and wrote them down on paper.
Today, I still look to fictional ladies for inspiration. Any female character created by Shonda Rhimes is a lady I can get behind. Her ability to create strong, intelligent female characters who address real issues is a gift to primetime television. I’m forever grateful to Shonda Rhimes for creating Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope!
Name: Sasha Pollock
Growing up in San Diego, I would watch a show on Cartoon Network called Teen Titans. I adored this one female character, Starfire. She was a charming, red-headed lady from a distant planet. Her powers included the ability to shoot jets of green lasers from her hands and eyes, incredible strength, and on top of that she could fly like a pro. Most of the male “super” heroes such as Robin and Cyborg actually relied on technology or special equipment in order to fight in battle.
In a way, Starfire seemed to be the most genuinely “super” woman to me, that I had ever witnessed in a show about superheroes. This television program was different from many TV shows and comics which endow a woman with special abilities and the fail to follow this up with any ambition or initiative have her make use of these powers. For example, in one popular anime Bleach, there is a similarly beautiful redheaded character named Orihime who has the incredible ability to summon spirits who may fight on her behalf. She doesn’t use this power in all 100 episodes that I watched, without giving up immediately or crying because fighting is scary. This would often disappoint me as a teenager. Starfire was a positive contrast to this image of women as weak and cowardly.
Starfire was inspirational to me, because she was a relatable character with traditional feminine qualities I could relate to, who also had these radical powers. Her demeanor was misleadingly sweet and naive–she had the personality of any confused foreigner who is new to town. She often misunderstood certain aspects of American culture. As a young girl growing up, there were parts of my culture that I couldn’t understand despite being born with this natural heritage. It seems like any girl who ever felt like an alien even at home in this country, would have been able to look up to Starfire. As eccentric and vulnerable as she could act at times, when the battle begun she was ready to kick some butt. Her voice would grow unstoppably
fierce, and she’d unleash mighty flaming emerald bullets. She could defeat some super villains without assistance.
Not to mention the fact, that she singlehandedly saved Robin (her love interest) multiple times from falling off a cliff or a building–and this even became a regular part of their battle routine against a number of threatening foes. Therefore, she successfully subverted the typical damsel in distress role that women have a tendency to fall into (quite literally.)
Overall, she was a very inspiring superhero who positively influenced my view of women throughout my adolescence. I hope more characters like her show up in future TV shows for everyone.
Name: Carline Hua
Growing up, I was always obsessed with the Harry Potter series. One of my favorite female characters from the series is Hermione Granger. Known for her intelligence, Hermione worked hard in school and was always driven in her studies. What I really loved about Hermione is that she studied and worked hard for herself. She enjoyed excelling in all of her classes. Even more remarkable is how she worked through any hardships with determination and cleverness.
Personally, I always had trouble in school speaking up and being confident. Like many young girls, it was hard overcoming personal insecurities and having courage. What I really liked about Hermione was that she was never afraid to answer questions in class. She was strong and empowered, which is what I hoped to become. Hermione influenced me by showing me that there is strength in my own voice. All I had to do was trust that I was capable. In the Harry Potter books and movies, Hermione helps Harry overcome great trials with her intellect. Not only was she helpful intellectually, Hermione was a great friend. Her ambition did not overshadow the more meaningful things like friendship and loyalty. I think watching Hermione accomplish so much by being herself, and not worrying about what other people thought helped me to achieve greater things in school.
Hermione was an influential character for me because she defied many gendered concepts of what it means to be a woman. She was strong, empowered, ambitious, loyal, and compassionate. Hermione Granger showed me that I could be just as great as I wanted to be.